Early Social and Emotional Communication in the Infant Siblings of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: An Examination of the Broad Phenotype

Department of Psychology, University of Miami, P.O. Box 248185, Coral Gables, FL, 33124-0751, USA.
Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders (Impact Factor: 3.34). 02/2007; 37(1):122-32. DOI: 10.1007/s10803-006-0337-1
Source: PubMed


Infants with older siblings with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD-sibs) are at risk for socioemotional difficulties. ASD-sibs were compared to infants with typically developing older siblings (TD-sibs) using the face-to-face/still-face (FFSF) at 6 months and the Early Social Communication Scale (ESCS) at 8, 10, 12, 15, and/or 18 months. ASD-sibs smiled for a lower proportion of the FFSF than TD-sibs and lacked emotional continuity between episodes. With respect to TD-sibs, ASD-sibs engaged in lower rates of initiating joint attention at 15 months, lower rates of higher-level behavioral requests at 12 months, and responded to fewer joint attention bids at 18 months. The results suggest subtle, inconsistent, but multi-faceted deficits in emotional expression and referential communication in infants at-risk for ASDs.

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    • "A number of those research projects have shown that some siblings of individuals with ASD demonstrate observable communication deficits already in the first three years of life and that these impairments can change over time. They include, among others, lower receptive language scores, delayed receptive and expressive language [15] [71] [72] [73] [74], requesting behavior [75] [76], understanding words and phrases, gesture use, and social-communicative interactions with parents [77]. The important question is how early are those problems manifested. "

    Full-text · Chapter · Apr 2015
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    • "In relation to infants with no family history of ASD (low-risk (LR) infants), a substantial number of HR infants who do not go on to receive an ASD diagnosis exhibit delays in gestural and vocal communication as well as in subsequent language development (e.g. Cassel et al., 2007; Paul et al., 2011; Yirmiya et al., 2006). "
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    ABSTRACT: This study investigates mothers' responses to infant communication among infants at heightened genetic risk (high risk) of autism spectrum disorder compared to infants with no such risk (low risk). A total of 26 infants, 12 of whom had an older sibling with autism spectrum disorder, were observed during naturalistic in-home interaction and semistructured play with their mothers at 13 and 18 months of age. Results indicate that overall, mothers of low-risk and high-risk infants were highly and similarly responsive to their infants' communicative behaviors. However, examination of infant vocal and gestural communication development together with maternal verbal responses and translations (i.e. verbally labeling a gesture referent) suggests that delays in early communication development observed among high-risk infants may alter the input that these infants receive; this in turn may have cascading effects on the subsequent development of communication and language.
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    • "ASD is generally diagnosed at age 36 months or later [16] although evidence from retrospective studies of parental concerns and early home videos suggests a much earlier onset [17] [18] [19] [20] [21] [22] [23] [24] [25] [26] [27]. Recent prospective studies of 'high-risk' infants (infant siblings of children diagnosed with ASD [28] [29] [30] [31]) have provided a window into the emergence of ASD early in life. Indeed, prospective longitudinal designs provide a unique opportunity to test specific hypotheses about early developmental mechanisms underlying the expression of subsequent symptoms [32] [33]. "
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